Government and industry officials have hailed the proposed free trade deal between Canada and the European Union as a game changer for the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery, but no one from the the federal government has come to the province to talk about it yet.
Between Oct. 23 and Nov. 4, high ranking federal cabinet representatives made public appearances and took media questions about the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in almost every province in Canada — in most cases on multiple occasions for multiple industries.
Everywhere, that is, except Newfoundland and Labrador.
Asked why the province was left out of the blitz, a spokesperson with the federal Department of International Trade said that, "no federal representative has yet been specifically to St. John's, Newfoundland to highlight the benefits of CETA because of logistical and scheduling reasons, but will do at the earliest opportunity."
The last CETA-related availability for a cabinet minister announced by International Trade took place Nov. 7 in Ontario.
Up to Nov. 18, there had been nothing planned or announced for this province.
Additionally, the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade has been doing a study on CETA and as part of that effort it will travel to Halifax, NS, Nov. 25 - 27 to hold public consultations about CETA. There are no plans for that committee to visit Newfoundland and Labrador either - instead, some industry sources here say they have been invited to bring any concerns they might have to the Halifax session.
Liberal Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor MP Scott Simms said the entire situation has him "at a loss" to explain.
"I'm actually shocked. They never pass up an opportunity to come do an announcement," Simms told The Fisheries Broadcast. "They say it's logistics, but Peter MacKay has been in Nova Scotia a couple of times. And there's a direct flight from Ottawa to St. John's."
Simms wonders why
Simms has been wondering if there might be some left-over political chill given that this province, under former Premier Danny Williams, had publicly raised concerns about the free trade negotiations with Europe earlier in the process.
"The first province, probably the only province, in the beginning to thumb their nose at this comprehensive agreement was (Newfoundland and Labrador). Maybe because the province rubbed them the wrong way, maybe they don't want to get involved," Simms said. "I find that odd though, because even in the face of the (Anything But Conservative) campaign they still did announcements."
Simms said even though Newfoundland and Labrador does not have a cabinet representative from this province, Newfoundland and Labrador senators have stepped in to make announcements or handle government business in this province in the past.
"When Peter MacKay was our representative, I remember Fabian Manning doing announcements everywhere," Simms said.
The absence of this province from the cross country tour comes after a similar absence during a major press conference on Oct. 29 announcing a $400 million federal-provincial fisheries fund. The federal government is contributing $280 million to that fund, but not a single federal MP, senator or bureaucrat attended the event held at the Rooms in St. John's.
Asked by the media at the time why nobody from the federal government showed up, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said, "You'll have to ask them."
"They asked us to wait a little while before we did this and we have, and we've encouraged everyone from the prime minister to every other minister, senator, whatever to be here with us today. They are not here, you know, they will have to speak to that piece," Dunderdale said after the Oct. 29 announcement.
CETA activity in other provinces
Up to Nov. 15, federal cabinet ministers and representatives have held public sessions/media available sessions on CETA in the following provinces:
October 28 - James Moore, Minister of Industry, highlights CETA benefits to representatives of the British Columbia agricultural industry and business community.
October 25 - Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and James Moore, Minister of Industry highlight the benefits of CETA to British Columbia's exporters, workers and businesses.
October 25 - Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, highlights CETA benefits to Alberta's producers, processors, ranchers, farmers and workers.
October 30 - Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, highlights the benefits of CETA for Saskatchewan's businesses and workers.
October 28 - Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, highlights the benefits of CETA at the Northern Saskatoon Business Association.
October 25 - Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, and Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development), highlight the benefits of CETA to Manitoba's exporters, workers and businesses.
November 7 - Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, and Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, meet with representatives of several Canadian patient advocacy groups to discuss how CETA will support Canadian innovation.
November 4 - Joe Oliver, Natural Resources minister, highlights the benefits of CETA for Ontario's workers and businesses.
October 30 - Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, highlights the benefits of CETA for Ontario's manufacturing sector.
October 29 - Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, highlights benefits of CETA on the occasion of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's 2013 International Trade Day.
October 28 - Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, and Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey, highlights the benefits of CETA for Southwestern Ontario farmers, workers and businesses.
October 28 - Pierre Poilievre, Minister of State (Democratic Reform), highlights the benefits of CETA to businesses and workers in the Ottawa Valley.
October 25 - Diane Finley, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, highlights the benefits of CETA to Southwestern Ontario's innovators, workers and businesses.
October 25 - John Baird, Member of Parliament for Ottawa West-Nepean and regional minister for Eastern Ontario, highlight the benefits of CETA for workers and businesses in Ottawa's technology sector.
October 22 - Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, highlights the benefits of CETA at the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters' 82nd Annual Conference.
November 4 - International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Maxime Bernier, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism, and Agriculture), meet with Quebec's pork farmers, workers and businesses.
October 23 - Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, highlights the benefits of CETA for Quebec's exporters, workers and businesses.
October 25 - Rob Moore, Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), highlights the benefits of CETA for New Brunswick's exporters, businesses and workers.
Prince Edward Island
October 24 - Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries, highlights the benefits of CETA for PEI businesses and industries.
October 26 - Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, holds round-table events about CETA with the business community in Nova Scotia. Morning round-table session held in Truro, afternoon event in Stellarton.
October 25 - Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, highlights the benefits of CETA to Nova Scotia's exporters, workers and businesses.
October 23 - Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, highlights the benefits of CETA to Nova Scotian exporters, workers and businesses.